Symbolism in Fences

Topics: August Wilson, Symbol, African American Pages: 5 (1385 words) Published: August 23, 2011
Symbols in Fences
As we know that, “Symbolism is a literary deice in which an object, event, or action is used to suggest a meaning beyond its literal meaning” (p.1801). In the play night Mother, by Marsha Norman used the symbol of “bus” to compare Jessie life; she feel herself as if no progress in life after the age fifty years. Therefore, she compares herself with such a “Bus” which will reach in same place even after fifty years. So, ‘Bus’ symbolizes the lack of progress, sense of hopelessness in life. The Pulitzer Prize winning drama “Fences” by renowned African-American black Writer August Wilson also presents the symbols in his play. The symbols play vital role in play. It represents the theme of Drama. So, symbolic meaning is also important in any kind of play. The symbols in the play Fences:

‘Fence’ as symbol.

Fences are a wall intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a border line. Rose Maxson, wants “fence” from her husband Troy Maxson and her son, Cory because for her “fence” is so necessary or important to keep her family member closer, together. She wants peace and harmony in her family. As a result, for Rose “fence” stands for family harmony/union and love. In deeper level, she may want to be built fence to keep aside white contact. She even not forgets to tell her son, Cory to help father to build fence:

Rose: “your daddy like to had a fit with you running out of here this morning without doing your chores.” Cory: “I told you I had to go to practice.”

Rose: “He say you were supposed to help him with this fence.” (p.1522)

The impotency of fences for Rose is uncovered by Jim Bono, best friend of Troy. Jim says to Troy:

Bono: “some people build fences to keep people out…..
and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose
wants to hold on you all. She loves you.”

She loves her family too much, so she wants her husband and son to build fences to keep them near.

‘Train’ as symbol

When Troy had a daughter from his third wife Alberta, he is in tension mood. At that moment he tries to relax by singing song with his daughter, Raynell in his house. He was in tension due to Raynell entrance in house. When he is full of tension he sings:

(He sings as a lullaby)
“Please, Mr. Engineer let a man ride the line
Please, Mr. Engineer let a man ride the line
I ain’t got no ticket please let me ride the blinds.”(p.1536)

Troy sings loud enough to Rose to hear his songs; feeling towards Rose what he wants to express through his songs. Through his song that echoes the afro American black great respect as well as their attachment to “train”. Troy requests through his songs to a man to help fugitive slave to get on “train” so that he can escape to freedom. By the historical time there was not slavery system in north. As a result, black people from southern part always want to escape from south. By the help of “train” they can get to the North Part. So, in play Wilson made a song for Troy to get rid from his family, for him “Train” refers to getting ‘freedom’.

‘Fastball’ as Symbol

In the play, ‘fastball’ stands for death. Actually, Troy took the term ‘fastball’ from his baseball game which he learnt while he was in prison and become its champion. Once Rose requests Troy not drink more drinks to maintain his health. In reply he says:

Rose: “You gonna drink yourself to death. You don’t
need to be drinking like that.”
Troy: “Death is nothing. I done seen him. Done
wrassled with him. You can’t tell me nothing about
death. Death ain’t nothing but a fastball on the out-
side corner. And you know what I’ll do to that!
Lookee here, Bono….am I lying? You get one of
them fastballs, about waist high, over the outside
corner of the plate where you can get the meat of the
bat on it…. And good god! You can kiss it goodbye.
Now, am I lying? (p.1517.1.1)...
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